Oats gets a lesson in dressage-jumping

I had my dressage lesson (I am doing them each Thursday, instead of every other Thursday) because I wanted to really get ‘back on track’, you know?

And we did…Little jumps! In a dressage lesson!

It was actually really cool, and built upon the principles of the work we have been doing for the past couple of weeks (stretching, asking for stretch and contact through my ring fingers and ‘letting go’ with my arms, instead of statue arms) and bumped it up to start jumping!

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The jumps were tiny, like this one. Miss riding outside though, arghhh.

This means a higher frame, but a more responsive contact and not flinging his head up in the approach. These were tiny little x poles, cavaletti type things, not real jumps, BUT it could give me the feeling of jumping, while still being focused on the dressage exercise, rather than on ‘the jump’ dun dun dunnnnnnnnn

Oats did really well actually! It was tricky, and I struggled a bit but it was really cool and by the end, we were getting every single distance. We did still have his head fly up in the 3 strides before, but it was getting better each time.

What we did was a type of ‘circle to the left’ exercise…So, jump the jump, and then immediately circle left, to the next circle and then left to another jump, and another circle…Just constantly going left, over a jump, circle, go large, left over the jump, left… Phew! Of course I forgot where I was going a few times, circled right, but it was actually better than I thought.

I’m sure it looked like hell but felt darned good- it was taking what we did last week (small circles in the canter, getting him off my legs instead of ‘statue-riding’ frozen in place) and just adding in small jumps to sharpen him to the ‘turn, stay off my right rein, jump’ process.

All good work and I felt pretty excited to be doing it! Yay Oats!!

 

The heart of a dark star: Jump lesson update

Ok, you know how I was saying how amazing my dressage lesson was, and how we were killing it? Picture that, but like..the total opposite in my jump lessons. ARGH. My release was all over the place, wicked right drift, you name it, we were doing it.

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Miss this- the sun, having this outdoor, jumps, everything. This year is turning out to be the worst yet! 

Oats tripped over the grid we were working on and almost face-planted through it. He couldn’t trot or canter a single pole without hitting it, HARD.

It didn’t feel that harmonious and I wanted to fix it, but you know what? It also didn’t feel scary or intimidating, just kind of frustrating. I want to be back where I was, you know? Confidently cantering 2’6-2’9” courses, instead of…face-planting through a tiny grid. HAH.

Oh well, I guess by lesson 3 back, I have not yet gotten it all figured out, that’s for darned sure. SO humbling and painful, ha.

Lessons we learn…not always the ones we intend on.

Also another gripe about the weather: It sucks. It always sucks here. We don’t get summer, apparently…Just wind, rain, sun, wind, rain and more wind. I’m freezing!!

Oh and I had the farrier out (love his new farrier) and Oats was TERRIBLE for her. Sheesh. What a jerkface. AND he tried to run over one of the girls at the barn in a bid to escape his paddock. He can be the biggest brat ever!

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going. 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! 🙂

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Cobble Hill 10k Race Recap!

So this is exciting- we had a new start/finish line this year! Previously we had to jog about 700m to the start/finish, from the staging area. Not a big deal but also kind of a pain in the ass, haha.

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Heading to the finish! Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

Apparently this would also make the course flatter/faster?! Would it?? Time would tell for me 🙂

I was fresh off of feeling super irritated about my efforts at the Harriers 8k. It just…sucked. I did get proactive about it, and sought treatment for my asthma (now I am the proud owner of two inhalers- 1 rescue inhaler to use before/after racing, and 1 daily inhaler for maintenance), plus this race I made sure to take an extra half dose of my daily allergy medication just in case (wow, I sound super high maintenance these days…). So I was all set!

I also did not have great expectations. Lately my legs have felt super flat, dead, achy left knee, bad lungs/breathing…Yeah, you got the idea.

I was talking with my friend’s husband about the Harriers race and he too had a tough race- though he is VERY fast. So, it wasn’t just me riding the struggle-bus. That made me feel slightly better.

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A few of the winners- I am the shortest by a head, again. HAh!

The morning of the 10k dawned nice and warm, and what’s that? SUn? It was crazy warm for us! I was regretting wearing my long-sleeved run shirt. Now, I never regret dressing warmly, ha. It was just a gorgeous weekend! We warmed up, I took my inhaler, and we were off to the start! It was a very congested start- only half the road, so everyone was crammed to the left. I left 5 seconds on the table with that start, yikes.

We were off, and I was kind of struggling. It felt hard, definitely not easy, my legs felt tired immediately and heavy, and my breathing- despite my multiple efforts- wanted to seize. But you know what? I felt like, oh ok well this is how it is going to be then…A repeat of the 8k…And I just grimly kept running.

And it kept kind of sucking, up until about 5k. Something just CLICKED! In my body!

I felt solidified, I felt energized, I was doing it, by god!!  I gathered together my energy, and I started really running, and I mean it. I was actively racing! I honestly haven’t felt that kind of ‘try’ in my body for over a year. It was really exciting 🙂

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This photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell. 

And I ran, and I ran. I was finally doing it!

I was running a race, rather than being run off my feet by it. I quite literally found my stride. It felt so good, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I felt to be running a race that I felt like I could actually run, rather than struggling or suffering.

I wrapped up and my time was fine- I got the same time last year and was mad, but this year, I have been trying to manage so many other health issues that to be quite honest, it made me happy! Am I back?? Maybe too soon to tell, but I felt good about it.

Chip time was 43:32, gate time was 43:37, good for 5th in my AG and 14th woman. YEah!!  A lovely day with some AMAZING food- pretzels from True Grain!!

Deep into this: Try something new

Had a very decent weekend, where I tried my FIRST SPIN CLASS! Woo! A colleague is an instructor at the spin studio downtown, and I have been promising to try it out for oh…A solid year now? In my defense, my weekends can get really busy (training, travelling, horse shows, races, riding…) so this past weekend, I dropped my excuses and just did it! And I liked it!

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I miss the summer…

I did see how it could get really intimidating…I am not a cyclist, and I don’t know how to use clip on shoes, so he had to clip me onto the bike and when I clipped out, I couldn’t see well enough to get them clipped back in, hah. Luckily it was at the end of the class when we were stretching, so I just hopped off and stretched off the bike.

The room is not very big, and it’s dark. The music is loud and really fun! The choreography was not very complicated, thank god because I am the WORST at figuring out what I am supposed to be doing, and nobody likes a class where you spend the whole time fumbling instead of working it out!

It was super warm, so I was sweating my ass off. I like that! I worked pretty darn hard, I’d say. My body was unused to the exercise, for sure- felt quite different from running. I don’t normally get so hungry running- this- I was freaking ravenous. I did have a real ‘ephiphany’ moment riding the bike thinking, I am going to be so healthy and virtuous after this! Salads! Smoothies!  and I would say that feeling lasted, oh…until I jogged home and straight to a candy shop. Whoops! And ate Ramen for lunch. Oh well, it’s winter right?

I had lunch, cooled off and then went to ride- and I think I had a good ride? It was a flatwork ride. Sunday my legs were definitely feeling the workout- I went to ride in the morning, after meeting Oats’ new farrier (I think she seems nice and good at her job, phew!). I went to do my ‘homework’ ride and my legs were straight-up burning. Whooow… Those xpoles never worked me so hard!

Yesterday is my ‘easy’ day, so I do not run, only do minimal working out and more stretching at the work gym, and I rode Oats bareback. It was freaking freezing. Ugh.

It’s an easy day for both of us.  I jumped my first xpole bareback last night! I was grabbing onto his mane like it was going to save my life, hahah. Death grip for sure. He did it perfectly, and I almost collapsed into a quivering pile of adrenaline on the backside of it. Good boy!!! hahah.

Tonight Oats is doing his beginner’s lesson and I am off at the Premier’s Awards dinner! Yes!

MEC Victoria Race 3: Halloween half marathon!

That’s right, fresh off a whole three weeks returning to running from a summer++ off, I ran a 10k and then ran a half marathon the weekend after! What am I, totally crazy?

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why am I always alone at the finish? 

Well, yes but that’s half of it. I had already signed up for the MEC half (I normally sign up for all of their race packages, so cheap and well-run, but I won’t anymore because they basically halved the races they offer and cut 2 of my favourite ones, and kept the one I hate and won’t run…soooo nope).

But anyways, I usually like this one because it’s fall, Halloween time and the air is crispy with anticipation! (or frost. Mostly frost). Plus since I traditionally have my summer-to-fall injury, I haven’t been able to run the half marathon in a year or so, and I wanted to this year!

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My kind husband came to support me and take pictures, but they were all blurry. Boo! 

I didn’t have great expectations. Hell, I just wanted to run it, see if I could finish, and then try and deal with the aftermath (injuries don’t mess around). I have also been dealing with nagging health issues, so I’m not really at the top of my game this fall.

Anyways, it went quite well! The first loop felt terrible. I was tired, we had Oktoberfest the night before, and just…EH. My stomach was unhappy, my legs felt like they belonged on someone else’s body…It was rough.

Lucky for me, I’m a strong second-loop runner though! I kind of shook off the annoyed and tired thoughts and felt- hey, it’s a gorgeous day! You’re DOING IT! Look at this! A few months ago, this was only in the realm of ‘maybe’..and I’m here!!! I felt great then, happy to be able to physically run again- and a half, with only a few weeks back into running under my belt? WOW!!

So I picked up the tatters of my morale and just ran. Pure, free, able. Running!

It also helped that I stopped getting passed by literally everybody, ha. Slow running is still kind of new to me 😉 And I felt strong going to the finish. Sure my left hip locked up, and my right foot had a sore spot on it…I was going to do it!

And I did! My time is humbling and slow, but I am happy with my efforts. 1:46 and change. Pretty sweeeeeeeet! As always, the volunteers were great, and the aid stations were well-manned and well stocked. I picked up two Clif gels but didn’t end up eating them, as the Nuun electrolytes were good enough.

“You are the kind of guy who always hopes for a miracle at the last minute.”

I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.

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Christi came and took these amazing photos. So good! 

That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.

I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!

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Photos courtesy of Christi.

I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!

Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.

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Liverpool? What liverpool? Oats is the most casual pony on the planet.

I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?

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I got this mom. It’s easy. 

When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.

Another one bites the dust! (Almost!)

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Clobbered the jump. Lesson to all- don’t jump ahead! 

Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.

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Now that’s more like it! 

Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!

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It felt easy when we did it with small jumps,and then sure, put ’em up. GULP! 

The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.

As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!

And I had to cling on, haha.

Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.

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I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.

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Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.

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go Oats go!! 

I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.

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So majestic! 

 

These are the days that must happen to you: Jumper day update!

A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!

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A great weekend! What a good pony. 

Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.

My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!

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That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.

We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…

Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂

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We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?

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We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.

We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!

I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!